The Muse and Me by Chris Ludke

When I’m drawing in plein air, I’m at the same place at the same time of day for a couple hours so I can get the same light. And I work slowly. I erase a lot. People watch my progress. They can’t tell if I made a mistake. Some people talk to me, and I like talking to anyone who’s interested. I need to look away from the picture anyway.

Sometimes they ask me a question that I don’t  understand. “Why are you doing this ?” So I say it’s figure drawing practice, or I tell them about the picture I’m planning. Then they ask ” Are you taking a class ? Is this for yourself ? Is this for sale ? ” I tell them I work alone, and I sell my work.

But still, sometimes I have to say ” This is what the voice in my head told me to do.” Then they understand  why I’m doing this.

That’s what we call the muse.

Some artists can’t find inspiration.  I’ve had plenty of inspiration for years. I can’t find the energy to keep up with it. The difference is probably that I’ve simplified my life so I can concentrate on art. If I had a lot of obligations or distractions, I couldn’t do this. I take my time, and do my roughs. And I refuse to rush. Everything I do is a challenge, and if I get stuck, I put it away for a while and do something else.

If you want to hear the muse talk to you, it’s that little voice in your head that says ” Isn’t that a beautiful thing ? Isn’t this a beautiful place ? doesn’t that music grab you ?”

If you are looking for inspiration, try to quiet your mind from the daily stress, and go to a place where muses live. The museum, Hollywood Cemetery, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, the James River or your favorite local place.

Drawing in plein air never gets boring. Making art is a discipline more than a God given thing. If you work with your hands or play video games you have enough dexterity to draw. It’s a challenge. there’s always something new to learn and always room for improvement. What makes you a good artist is how much time do you put into it, because the more you practice the better you get.

And when the muse starts talking to you, she never shuts up.


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